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Volume I, Number 1, 2005

At the Beginning of a Long Way
Pages 3-4

Eco-Balancing as a Guideline for Environmentally Sound Regional Planning Supported by GIS Applications
Pages 5-12

ABSTRACT – During the last several years, environmental impact assessment, regional or spatial planning, and environmental balancing seem to develop similarities, e.g. joint basic methodological approaches such as the use of environmental indicators, the focus on same environmental goods such air, water, soil, flora/fauna, etc. (Lenz 1999). Especially GIS-based software systems show their multiple applications in these fields. After a short introduction about the central role of indicators in transdisciplinary problem solving processes, experiences from a set of regional environmental (or eco) balances show a wide range of advantages as well as disadvantages in the context of the widespread use of GIS-based planning tools. Relying on concepts and examples for the spatial eco-balances in the district of Pfaffenhofen (Upper Bavaria, Germany; cf. Lenz 1997) and the municipality of Mulfingen (Hohenlohe, Germany) – both of them related to the concept of environmental indicators of the Advisory Board of Environmental Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany (SRU 1994) and the Federal Environmental Agency (UBA 1995) – we can show GIS-based information systems of a high practical relevancy. On the basis of the GIS software ArcView, the data base management system Access, and html scripts, we developed environmental information systems to balance environmental effects in a map scale of 1:5,000 – 1:50,000, in order to provide the administration with tools for an environmentally sound and sustainable development of their area (Lenz 1997, 1999, Beuttler et al. 1999). The spatial distribution of land use types, solar energy potential, area consumption and drinking water consumption for the municipality of Mulfingen are highlighted in this paper. Still, the practical use of the systems seems to be limited due to the lack of computer skills among the administrators – even after programming graphical user interfaces for the indicator “drinking water consumption”-, as well as due to widely distributed and hard-to-access data and information sources.

Key words: GIS, eco-balances, environmental planning, environmental indicators, environmental information systems.

The Concept of the Cultural Region and the Importance of Coincidence between Administrative and Cultural Regions
Pages 13-26

ABSTRACT – After browsing the principal terms of geographical regions like structural and functional regions, the paper highlights the term “cultural region” as a manifestation of a certain culture in the landscape on the one hand and as a factor of shaping cultural identity on the other. The very point and message of the paper is to emphasize that it was an advantage, if administrative regions, i.e. a subtype of functional regions, would coincide with cultural regions, i.e. a subtype of structural regions. It offers several explanations for why this coincidence was favourable, hints at successful historical examples and recent attempts to achieve such a coincidence.

Key words: cultural region, administrative region, structural region, functional region

Ţara Moţilor – a Regional Term between Economic and Ecological Interests. Some Explorations in the Romanian Periphery
Pages 19-26

ABSTRACT – The term “Ţara Moţilor“ is very frequently used in the context of the planned gold mining project in Roşia Montană. The term is as well used in an economic and ecologic way and it is used by those who support the project as well as by its critics. There are a lot of articles in Romanian newspapers and brochures of the last three years combining the gold mining project and the Ţara Moţilor topic. It will be analyzed in what different contexts the geographical term is used and the spatial image of Ţara Moţilor that is produced in the respective context. Starting with a look into the history of instrumentality of the region it is obvious that there exists a long tradition in using this term for a strong mentality of people who defend their freedom. In an actual context the every day communication of the local population is reproducing this stereotype. The results of a questionnaire shows that the stereotypes used by developer and opponents of the gold mining project met with a strong response. By this way the production and reproduction of a spatial image called “Ţara Moţilor“ can be used successfully for the interests of the actors of both sides. But there exists a geographical differentiation on a small scale between mining and silvicultural areas.

Key words: Ţara Moţilor, gold mining, economic interests, ecological interests

The DKMT-Euroregion: An Instrument for Cross Border Regional Development
Pages 27-34

ABSTRACT – Up to now border regions of national states have been and still are characterized by “ends”: the end of traffic and communication infrastructures, the end of national laws and mentalities. They have been part of the peripheral space surrounding the centre or the centres of national states. Borders have been and partly still are lines of more or less strict separation between one state and another, between one people and another. Encouraged by the increasing cooperation between the “centres” after World War II, border regions seek to change their bad situation caused, on both sides, by their separating border line, through cooperation across these lines. Initially represented by personal contacts, soon cooperation came to take institutional forms that would stimulate it. The most accepted of cross border cooperation becomes the “Euroregion.” Usually Euroregions are associations of neighbouring local or regional administrative units on the borderlines of two or three, rarely more than three states. Since 1957 when the so-called “Euregio” was founded on the German-Dutch border, these Euroregions have aimed at improving the welfare of the people on both sides of the border. One of the most effective ways to reach this aim is the holistic method of regional development. This means making use of the whole regional potential in a sustainable way for the people living in the region. Therefore, all Euroregions – beside their differences in size or organization – have common projects for cross border regional development. Slowly, Euroregions have been acknowledged as suitable instruments for cross border regional development. Soon after 1989 Euroregions appeared, by transfer and attraction, in the former widely isolated countries in Eastern Europe. One of the dozens of Euroregions now existing in this area is the DKMT-Euroregion, the “Danube-Körös-Maros-Tisza-Euroregion” between Serbia, Hungary, and Romania.

Key words: DKMT Euroregion, cross-border cooperation, regional development

The Metropolitan Area of the Municipality of Bucharest. Present-Day Features Relating to Some Environmental Issues in an International Context
Pages 35-46

ABSTRACT – The development of metropolitan areas represents the main characteristic of today’s urban evolution trends. The first initiatives to delimitate and define metropolitan areas have been in the United States since 1910. In Europe, this concept was adopted at the beginning of the1990s when the United States had already had 250 metropolitan areas. Romania adopted the concept of metropolitan area in the late 1990s, namely in 1997 when a study on the Directions, Ways, and Intensities of Development in the Municipality of Bucharest and its Metropolitan Zone. Environmental protection politics appeared. This made public a point of view about the Bucharest metropolitan area, which was legally defined by Law no. 351 of July 6th 2001 regarding the National Territory Management Plan, Section IV – Settlements. But many other limits of this area were also taken into account. The uncontrolled evolution of the Bucharest Metropolitan Area as well as of many other European capital cities can be stopped or stabilized by developing green belts or green areas.

Key words: metropolitan area, urban sprawl, urban planning, green – yellow belt, environmental planning.

Regions in Romania: Purpose and Territorial Realities
Pages 47-50

ABSTRACT – Regionalisation as a process and regions as territorial entities reappeared in the political, economic, administrative, and scientific discourse. In Romania, even since the Middle Ages, there have been regional type entities called “ţări”/ “countries.” They covered areas of approximately 400 km². These regions have remained as such until nowadays and therefore, they are irrefutable territorial proofs of the continuity of the Romanian people in the area. The territorial and administrative divisions that appeared later were the result of the effort to keep pace with the necessity to modernize the society and with the consequences of different historical events. The present eight development regions in Romania try to emulate the territorial realities that had occurred earlier in Western Europe. The Romanian regions emerged from the need to fit the statistical requirements of the rank 2 NUTS regions, but they are not functional. The same thing is true about Euroregions, which, in fact, have a rather cartographic functionality, the normal territorial relationships being obstructed by the frontier effect. This effect has increased lately because visas have again become compulsory for some of the would-be partners in the co-operation on which the construction of these regions relies.

Key words: region, land, NUTS

The Resilience of the Geographical Region
Pages 51-54

ABSTRACT – This paper relies on the concept of “resilience” understood as “the ability of a system to adapt and persist,” and it uses, for the first time, this feature in the study of the geographical region – a territorial system of great complexity. The factors relating to the geographical region’s resilience are climate changes, resource management, anthropic pressure, interregional competition, the new development strategies, and globalization.

Key words: resilience, region, system, adaptation.

Critical Environmental Regions
Pages 55-58

ABSTRACT – A short etymological interpretation of the notion of regions (Rette Lineatte, etc.). The region is: R= f (S+P), where S is space and P is power. There follows an evaluation of the characteristics of the region and the presentation of different approaches to the region. From the classic ideas (von Humboldt, 1885, Dokuceaev, 1899, Herbertson, 1905, and others) we get to a wide interpretative array of what we accept as organizational spatial units of geographical reality. The environmental region has important connotations with regard to the system as a surrounded element (man, society) and the adjacent system. Critical environmental regions are areas where there already exists   interactive degradation. The critical character may be physical, hence the “geocritical regions” or the result of human impact, hence the “anthropocritical regions.” Critical situations are differentiated at the local, regional, and global level. In order to understand critical regional situations we must refer to the following characteristics: fragility, resilience, and vulnerability. Still there are few environmental studies on critical regions and work must be done in this field.

Key words: region, regional characteristics, regional units, and critical environmental regions.

Regions with Integrated Tourist Arrangements. Case Study: the North-West Development Region
Pages 59-62

ABSTRACT – Tourist arrangements, the consumption of the tourist product, tourist demand are spatially and geographically structured and they lead to specific types and forms of tourism. The tourist and geographical regions have different potentials or a specialized potential. These regions are to be found at the contact between territorial units with mutual polarization and where there are double or multiple functional junctions. In the North-West Region, there are integrated inter-county, inter-region, or even cross-border touristic provision.

Key words: integrated tourist arrangements, the North-West Development Region

Some Methodological Aspects Concerning the Use of Satellite Images and Maps in the Physico-Geographical Regional Determination of the Romania Territory
Pages 63-68

ABSTRACT – This paper presents some methodological aspects concerning the use of satellite images and maps in the physico-geographical region determination of Romania’s territory, as well as some results that can be obtained using this method. In order to determine the physico-geographical units and sub-units using satellite maps (Bucharest page, 1:1.500.000) and satellite images (Landsat, IRS) we have analyzed, from the geographical point of view, some samples of such documents. The resulting maps were compared with the already existing physico-geographical region determination maps. Our results show that the method under consideration has both advantages and disadvantages. One conclusion is sure: satellite images and maps can be used for this purpose together with traditional maps.

Key words: satellite map, geographical interpretation, and physical-geographical region, Romania

The Obstacles to Social-Economic Change in Post-Communist Romania

Pages 69-74

ABSTRACT – The aim of this paper is to study the macroeconomic phase which characterizes present-day Romania, 15 years after the regime- change, embedded into that regional context which Romania is part of. The regional importance of this paper is that Romania is the biggest state of the southeastern region as far as territory and population are concerned. For this reason the country’s economic development cannot be indifferent to the neighbouring states, as it can have positive or negative social effects on them. The Romanian society was passing through a slowly and difficult process of democratization and economic liberalization during the nineties and the turn of the millenium, which was a similar way to the other post-socialist East European countries. The NATO membership of Romania and the imminent EU membership in 2007 are important stimuli to make further progresses on the way to functional capitalism and welfare. As an express of the efficient economy policy at the end of the social-democratic administration the economical growth of Romania rose to the incredible rate of 8.1%, while the budget deficit was only 1.3%. In the autumn of 2004 was elected a right, liberal coalition-government, which began his activity with a radical fiscal reform introducing a unique rate of taxes (16%). In this circumstances the possibility of the avalanche of the FDIs is a real expectance, but Romania still have to fulfill some other requirements, such as the reducing of the almost generalized corruption and to maintain the balance of the budget according to the agreement with the IMF, in order to became a major economic competitor of the Central-Eastern European region.

Key words: social-economic change, macroeconomics, economic development, Romania

Climatic Regionalization between Yesterday and Tommorrow. Study Case: The Banat Plain
Pages 75-82

ABSTRACT – Climatic regionalization is an important activity of many Romanian and foreign researchers. This research work has been done for more than 100 years. For the last 30 years Romania has been divided into climatic domains, regions and districts, according to the landscape characteristics of the air mass circulation (wind characteristics) and vegetation (other important genetic climatic factors were taken also into account, such as the impact of human society over the natural environment). Theoretically, the latest global and regional climate changes have not modified the entire climatic regionalization taxonomy. It is divided into the same domains, regions, and districts. This 30 year-old taxonomy is still in use, but, practically, the values of the major climatic elements have changed, mostly at the micro- and topo-climatic level and, especially, in the case of urban topo-climates. Tomorrow’s climatic regionalization will take more into account human impact and economic activities. This will be a factor with an increasing impact on the genesis of the climate, at the micro- and topo-climatic level and at the regional and local level. In the Banat Plain Area, these changes are mostly noticed at a local level, because of the topo-climatic appearances or modifications. The present study analyses temperature and precipitation parameters in the Banat Plain Area, in 2000, 2001, and 2002 in comparison to the multi-annual value from The CMR Banat-Crişana Archives and listed at the meteorological observation stations from Sânnicolau Mare, Jimbolia, Timişoara, Banloc and Lugoj.

Key words: climate regionalization, the Banat Plain area, monthly average value and multi-annual average value of temperatures and precipitations

The Geographical Region and Sustainable Development
Pages 83-90

ABSTRACT – Our paper analyses regional sustainable development. The understanding and the conceptualisation of the region (the natural region, the humanized region, the functional region, and the territorial-system region) have been synchronically adapted to certain development attributes, from the purely economic one to the present-day sustainable development. The main idea of our paper is that the components of sustainable development (efficient economic development, fair social development, sustainable ecological development – all these against a democratic institutional and political framework) should be implemented in regional geographical entities (the geographical regions) in order to have maximum efficiency. Our conclusion is that the sustainabledevelopment region should be perceived as an entity where we can find all the characteristics of sustainable development (economic, social, environmental development). Our approach is an incipient one without the pretension that it is definitive and exhaustive.

Key words: geographical region, sustainable development

Regional Differentiations for the Temporal Variations of Atmospheric Precipitations in the Transylvanian Depression
Pages 91-102

ABSTRACT – This study refers to the trends in precipitation amounts in the central part of Romania (the Transylvanian Depression) between 1961-2000. The general trend was calculated using the least-squares linear fitting for the whole period and for every decade of the period: 1961-1970, 1971-1980, 1981-1990, 1991-2000. The main results of our research are: during the whole period there is a general decreasing trend in this region, especially in its southern area; during the first two decades, there was an increase trend, between 1981-1990 the general trend was a decrease and the trend for the last decade of the 20th century was variable.

Key words: precipitation, trend, central area of Romania (the Transylvanian Depression)

Elements of Bio-Geographical Regional Determination in the Subcarpathians between the Prahova and the Dâmboviţa River
Pages 103-108

ABSTRACT – Generally, the Subcarpathian area between the Dâmboviţa and the Prahova is characterized by very diverse landscapes and an intense human impact. Secondary or derived vegetal associations are also present to a large extent, in relative balance with a certain type and degree of human pressure. Some of these vegetal associations are extremely rich in flora and fauna. The most frequent are the lawn associations used as hayfields and pastures. Orchards are often associated with grassy vegetation used as grazing land or more often as hayfields. There are relatively frequent shrub clusters and they represent isolated vegetation on rocky crests or, quite often, an intermediary stage towards the initial forest vegetation on formerly deforested terrains where there is more or less intense degradation. All these remain stable as long as man uses them rationally. When human impact goes beyond nature’s capacity to withstand it, most of the terrains used as grazing land or covered by shrub clusters show significant degradation, which leads to much fewer species with diminished productive potential. The landscape types of this Subcarpathian area are: the high hill landscape, the low and medium altitude hill landscape and the large corridors and depressions landscape.

Key words: the Prahova-Dâmboviţa Subcarpathian area, human impact, landscape types

Geographical Events
Page 109